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CNN Newsroom

Aired October 3, 2001 - 04:30   ET


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CNN CO-HOST: And welcome to this edition of CNN Newsroom. I am Shelly Walcott.

MICHAEL MCMANUS, CNN CO-HOST: And, I am Michael McManus. India reaffirms its commitment to help fight terrorism. In a letter Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee urged U.S. President Bush to extend the campaign against terrorism into Kashmir. The plea comes one day after a suicide bomb attack on India's State Legislature, killed dozens and wounded scores more. A Pakistan-based group claims responsibility.

WALCOTT: India and Pakistan have been locked in a bitter fight over control of Kashmir, which has been divided between the countries, since 1947. Both nations back the international coalition against terrorism.

Joel Hochmuth reports.


JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as it continues to respond to terrorism on its own shores, United States is condemning the latest terrorist attack in India. Secretary of State Colin Powell met with India's Minister of Defense and External Affairs in Washington, Tuesday, in a show of solidarity in the wake of a car bombing in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

COLIN POWELL, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: This squarely was an act of terror, and as the president made it clear in his statements and his speech week before last, we are going after terrorism in a comprehensive way. Not just in the present instance of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden but terrorism as it affects nations around the world to include the kind of terrorism that affects India.

HOCHMUTH: Forty people are known dead following the attack outside the State Legislature in the city of Srinagar, Monday. It's the worst terrorist attack in the region in over two years. Tens of thousands of people have died in over 10 years of fighting by militant Muslims seeking to overthrow Indian control. India is mostly Hindu; Kashmir is its only region with a Muslim majority.

A Pakistani militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack. India blames Pakistan for supporting guerrillas and training them in camps across Pakistan. That's something that in a recent interview with CNN Christiane Amanpour, Pakistan's President flatly denied.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What are you going to do to make sure now, as part of this U.N. resolution that there's a complete crack down on any opportunity for terrorism from here?

GENERAL PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: Well, when we talk of terrorist groups here in Pakistan, there is no terrorist group in Pakistan.


HOCHMUTH: Indian officials are apparently unconvinced.

JASWANT SINGH, INDIAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE AND EXTERNAL AFFAIRS: If the leadership of Pakistan and the Pakistan were to abandon the past of violence and of terrorism and join the rest of the international community in its fight against this evil, it would be a development that India would welcome.

HOCHMUTH: One Indian official charged that those responsible for the attack had ties to Osama bin Laden's network.

DR. OMAR ABDULLAH, INDIAN MINISTER OF STATE FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS: We have absolutely no doubt in our minds that the group that was responsible is hand in glove with the al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

HOCHMUTH: No matter who is ultimately responsible for the attacks, this rated -- rabid dispute between India and Pakistan is adding fuel to an already volatile situation.

Satinder Bindra has that.

SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the past week, small but local groups of protesters have been taking to the streets across Pakistan. Their pledge, to fight the Pakistani establishment, if it supports any military action against Afghanistan is causing concern.

GEORGE PERKOVICH, NUCLEAR WEAPONS ANALYST: Yes, people worry it's possible that there could be tumult in Pakistan, and there could be massive unrest; and in some kind of worst case scenario, then people might worry that the nuclear weapons of Pakistan could fall into less responsible hands.

BINDRA: Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf said those who oppose him are a minority in Pakistan. In an interview with CNN, he said his country's nuclear arsenal is safe from extremists and terrorists.

GENERAL PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: The command and control setup that we have evolved for us is very very secure -- is extremely secure, and there is no chance of these assets falling in the hands of extremists. BINDRA: Even with such reassurances, analysts say there are fears that elements of the Pakistani military, which maybe sympathetic to the Taliban could be another disruptive force.

DR. BRAHMA CHEILANEY, ANALYST: When you have a military with fractions, with divisions. You have the Jihadi elements within the Pak military. You have people who believe in a holy crusade against the west. When you have those kinds of fissures, and if Musharraf's hold on power slips, who gains control of nuclear weapons, becomes a big issue.

BINDRA: General Musharraf says such fears are unfounded.

MUSHARRAF: The army here -- it certainly is the most disciplined army in the world, and there is no chance of any extremism coming into the army.

BINDRA: It's not an internal threat that General Musharraf is worried about; it's external. He recently warned nuclear neighbor and foe India to drop any plans he hinted, India might have against Pakistan's nuclear assets.

MUSHARRAF (through translator): The Pakistan army and every Pakistani is prepared to lay down their life for the safety of Pakistan. At this moment, our full air force is on high alert, and they are ready for a do or die mission.

BINDRA: But India says it has no intention of launching a military strike against Pakistan.

DR. ABDULLAH: India has never been the aggressive country. We have always been the aggrieved one; it is always been Pakistan that has launched preemptive strikes against India.

BINDRA: Even as New Delhi plays down the threat of military action analyst George Perkovich said, the world should brace itself for what he called, "a nuclear crisis".

PERKOVICH: Pakistan might fear or might get false intelligence that India was preparing to attack Pakistan's nuclear capabilities, and in that fear Pakistan might then decide that it has to mobilize its nuclear forces; and perhaps, even use Pakistan's nuclear forces before they get wiped out by India.

BINDRA: It's concerns like these, which have prompted the U.S. to appeal to both to India and Pakistan to cool down the rhetoric, to help reduce risk. Experts suggest Pakistan's nuclear weapons could be split into parts, so that the capture of one single element would not present a danger.

PERKOVICH: A third important step would be to do extra careful screening of the military forces and others that are guarding the nuclear assets of Pakistan.

BINDRA: With the risk of nuclear theft and plenty of finger pointing between foes India and Pakistan, analyst George Perkovich says both countries should resume a stalled dialog on nuclear safety. To calm nuclear fears, analysts say New Delhi must repeatedly assure its neighbors, it will not take military advantage of the tense situation in Pakistan. In the midst of a global crisis, many say this is the perfect opportunity for both countries to convince the world they're working to reduce nuclear risk and are responsible nuclear powers.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, New Delhi.


MCMANUS: British Prime Minister Tony Blair says there can be no compromise in the battle against terrorism. During a speech, Tuesday, to Britain's Labor Party, Mr. Blair denounced the September 11 attack and delivered a stern warning to Afghanistan's Taliban rulers, "surrender the terrorists", he said, "or surrender your power".

Margaret Lowrie reports from London.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Just the choice, defeat it or be defeated by it; and defeat it, we must.

MARGARET LOWRIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the Prime Minister's own words and those of British newspaper headline writers, it would appear the U.S. "War on Terrorism" has been claimed by Britain, as it's own battle.

BLAIR: The aim will be to eliminate their military hardware, cut off their finances, disrupt their supplies, target their troops, not civilians.

LOWRIE: Prime Minister Tony Blair seemed not just standing shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. President George W. Bush but helping to lead the charge himself. But analysts say don't mistake him for a political hog, rather he acts out of moral conviction.

ROB JENKINS, POLITICAL ANALYST: Tony Blair is probably the preeminent conviction politician amongst NATO leaders, which is to say everyone knows that he has a Clintonian-pragmatic streak, but he also carries great credibility in European capitals, as someone, who stands up for what he believes.

LOWRIE: And fighting this, analysts say, is something Tony Blair believes in. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Prime Minister Blair and his wife flew to the States to make clear their support, a gesture welcomed by President Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you for coming, friend.

LOWRIE: Friend indeed, Britain may belong to the European Union, but historically, it is seen as having a special relationship with the U.S. Analysts say both sides benefit.

JENKINS: There's the risk that he will be viewed as a lap dog of Washington, but he also has the objective of trying to strengthen Britain's role as a bridge between the European Union and the United States. And that is the role, which gives Britain and Tony Blair a lot of the leverage within European Union.

BLAIR: We continue the air campaign, we do not rule out any options.

LOWRIE: Leverage with Washington, as well, in Kosovo, Britain was believed influential in helping then President Clinton change his mind about ground troops. This time analysts say, Britain expects to have a role in any negotiations over a regime to replace the Taliban, should that come to pass. And, a seat at the table when allies define and execute other strategic aspects of what will likely be a wide- ranging and lengthy war against terror.

Margaret Lowrie, CNN, London.


WALCOTT: The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan says, his regime is willing to negotiate the hand over of Osama bin Laden, but first they want proof that bin Laden orchestrated the September 11 attacks. The U.S. State Department however says bin Laden's protectors know what they have to do; meantime, the international coalition against terrorism builds.

CNN's Nic Robertson looks at what the coalition is up against.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a frontline, just north of Kabul, a Taliban tank pounds Northern Alliance positions. This attack, four years ago, is typical analysts say, of the Taliban's military hardware, old and of Soviet origin.

CLIFFORD BEAL, EDITOR, JANE'S DEFENSE: We suspect that the Taliban probably has in the neighborhood of about a 100 usable tanks, which is not many. On the books, they've probably got 600, but most of those are inoperative.

ROBERTSON: Indeed firepower here seems to owe as much to human ingenuity, as it does to the manufacturer's design. Analysts warn however not to underestimate this unconventional looking force.

BEAL: On certain occasions, they have been able to show how to use surprise element of surprise mobility and firepower.

ROBERTSON: Often though, it has been their ability to buy over commanders with cash, and their momentum as the winning side that has kept the Taliban advancing across the country to their current position controlling all but 5 percent of the territory.

AMER RASHID, TALIBAN ANALYST: These are Pashtun tribal chiefs, local commanders, clan leaders who joined the Taliban; not because of its ideology but purely because that, you know, the Taliban were winning, and it was expected by the village that the clan chief would join the winning side.

ROBERTSON: It is through these tribal alliances that the Taliban claim to have 300,000 fighters; analysts however say, the regular Taliban force is about 45,000 and organized conventionally into armored elements and infantry although often used unconventionally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They tend to operate with task forces, which means they put together forces to get the job at hand.

ROBERTSON: Command and control is also loose, which is beneficial say experts, given the vulnerability of the Taliban's wireless communications network.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL SYED REFAQAT (INAUDIBLE), PAKISTAN ARMY: As far as Taliban are concerned, they don't believe in that kind of flimsy detail, operational plans, neither they wait for those operational plans to be (INAUDIBLE) and come up. They work on mission (INAUDIBLE), so this is one of their great assets.

ROBERTSON: Another asset, analysts say, surface-to-air missiles, lending credence to recent claims by the Taliban to have shot down an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft flying at 12,000 feet.

BEAL: They only have a low-level capability of defense in terms of both their air defense, guns, and in the shoulder-fire missiles that they have. They have some stinger, U.S. supplied, missiles they also have, Russian made IBRA missiles in the same class.

ROBERTSON: Such sophisticated weaponry came into Afghanistan, courtesy of the United States' determination to arm mujahideen fighters in the 1980s with sufficient firepower to drive out the Soviet army. Re-supply of such equipments is unlikely to be an option for the isolated Taliban. And experts' doubt the military skills the Taliban are now familiar with will be effective against the modern army.

REFAQAT: They have been fighting out a war with primitive technology and tactics, also against enemies, who are equally primitive in their technology sector.

ROBERTSON: Even the Taliban's considered advantages, as a good guerilla force may prove of limited value in a protracted campaign.

RASHID: They're very highly mobile, they're very good at guerilla war, and of course, the terrain is hugely advantageous to them. They know the terrain very well, but the whole, you know, it's going to be a war of attrition, in the sense that even their mobility in their pickups, you know they're going to run out of fuel very quickly.

ROBERTSON: Along with fuel dumps analysts also expect the Taliban's inherited aging air force of fighters and helicopters could be targeted in the opening salvos of a missile attack. Long-range missiles, rarely used these days could also be a target. Otherwise analysts say they could be one of the more unpredictable elements of the Taliban's armory, should they choose to destabilize the region. They have some SCUD missiles, which are again about 20-30 years old. They were used a lot during the war, the war against the Soviet Union, in fact the communist regime in Kabul used SCUD missiles to bomb Pakistan a lot but they cannot be targeted very effectively.


MCMANUS: The attacks against the United States have rallied other countries to promise a united front against terrorism. But what kind of support are they ready to give? Take Japan for example, since World War II, Japan's constitution limits soldiers to self-defense roles only and forbids fighting a war outside its borders.

Student bureau reporter Shingo Tamura now on what Japan's youth think about this long-standing policy.


SHINGO TAMURA, CNN STUDENT BUREAU: So what do Japanese young people think about the attacks on the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was shocked; it was like what happens in a movie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I have been to New York. I was near the World Trade Center building, we got scared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The attacks aren't on a particular country but on a number of people. I wonder why did they did such things.

TAMURA: Japanese youngsters do understand and share the grief that people are feeling in the United States but opinions are divided when it comes to a response.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Retaliation is the same as an attack. I don't think it's a good idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If we retaliate, we'll have a number of victims in the result.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If we don't do anything then they may carry out some another attacks, their fears are gone. I think there is no other choice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If they're attacked, they retaliate; I feel like they can understand that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If I have a (INAUDIBLE), I would take retaliatory measures but I really wish we looked at things from the worldwide perspective. I don't want to have another war.

TAMURA (voice-over): Prime Minister Koizumi promised that Japan would support the United States as much as possible. However, because Japan's constitution renounces war, it cannot send its self-defense forces to fight. When the Gulf War broke out, Japan gave $30 million in financial support, but this was criticized by other countries because Japan did not shed any blood.

(on camera): What do Japanese young people think about Japan's war renouncing constitution?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I want to keep the current constitution that renounces war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I think the current constitution should be revised. It's better to dispatch self-defense forces to support other countries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I wish all other countries had a Constitution like ours. Including something like Article 9 that renounces war.

TAMURA: The (INAUDIBLE) allows people to state all kinds of opinions. New solutions may develop (INAUDIBLE) discussion -- I am Shingo Tamura (INAUDIBLE) Japan for the CNN's student bureau.


WALCOTT: Shortly after the terrorist attacks, there were reports that some of Osama bin Laden's estranged relatives living in the United States were leaving the country out of fear for their safety.

That hasn't been the only migration, a number of students from the Gulf Region attending college in Washington D.C. have also decided to leave, Kimberly Abbott has more.


KIMBERLY ABBOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Mohammed Alheidous is going home. The 30-year-old American University student has been pursuing a masters' degree in public administration to become a professor. But he says in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, he would feel safer with his family in the Middle East than in the United States.

MOHAMMED ALHEIDOUS: Not only because I am not comfortable, or I am unsafe -- so because I feel that we are unwelcome in this country. Do you know when you will feel that you are unwelcome and no one wants to deal with you or make -- that makes me very depressed.

ABBOTT (voice-over): About 70 international students have officially taken leave from the university, many at the urging of their parents or their embassy. Student leaders say the unofficial number is much higher. Yasmin Said is the president of the Muslim Student Association and has watched many of her friends say good-bye.

YASMIN SAID, PRESIDENT, MUSLIM STUDENT ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I was crushed, I was very disappointed that some of my closest friends were leaving. Moreover, I was trying to convince them as much as possible to stay. I was telling them basically that there wasn't a need to leave and that at least American University is very safe. That worked with some, it didn't work with others.

ABBOTT (on camera): The students who are staying, say they are embracing their culture and trying to help others understand it.

LAILA ALHASSAN, STUDENT, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: We thought it was really our job to be here, right now, at this time especially to help people understand about what happened, that you know, who we really are? Islam doesn't accept this kind of thing.

ABBOTT (voice-over): It's in that spirit that Islamic religious leaders are helping students heal. They're holding open prayers and discussions and distributing multilingual copies of the Koran.

SIRAJ WAHHAJ: Instead of leaving, stay here and show what we really are. That we are not that. Let them see the beauty of the Muslims from the east. So the Americans have to see that side and not let the picture that they're painting of these crazy fanatics represent the people of Middle East or Muslims. So I would tell them don't run stay, stay here, stay here.

I want them to see the same side of America that has fired (INAUDIBLE). I want them to see that side also, and I think that this whole chance (INAUDIBLE) will also bring out the best (INAUDIBLE).

ABOTT: Mohammed Alheidous hopes it will get better too, but he'll wait it out in the Middle East. Still, he wants to one day finish his degree in an American University.

ALHEIDOUS: I put it in my mind that I'm coming back but I'm not sure when, next spring or next fall. I'm not sure but I'm putting my mind that I'm coming back.

ABBOTT: Kimberly Abbot, CNN, Washington.


MCMANUS: The possibility of a biological attack has become all too real to Americans. Two of the most serious concerns smallpox and anthrax. Anthrax is a type of bacteria that attacks the lungs killing 80 percent of those who become infected but smallpox is the more worrisome threat. The disease killed at least 300 million people during the 20th century.

CNN medical correspondent Rhonda Rowland now looks at how a smallpox epidemic could erupt today.

RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A scene from the last real war the United States fought against smallpox, the year 1947. More than six million New Yorkers lined up to be vaccinated against the deadly virus after an infected tourist was diagnosed with the disease. What could have been a devastating epidemic, ended with only 11 cases and two deaths, a public health triumph. A global vaccination program eradicated smallpox from the planet in 1977. The man who was in charge of that campaign is Dr D.A. Henderson. Now he is assessing the risk of smallpox being used as a weapon of terror. DR. D.A.HENDERSON: This is a possibility, but we still believe that this is an unlikely possibility, that there is the risk that this is going to happen and somebody is going to able to pull this off, is small, but it's there, it's not zero.

DR. TARA O'TOOLE: The speculation is that it would be released into the air as an aerosol, possibly from an airplane, or perhaps in a closed room. People would then breathe it in.

DR. HENDERSON: You couldn't smell it, you couldn't see it, you wouldn't know that it was there.

ROWLAND: Those infected would feel absolutely nothing for about 12 days. Then symptoms begin to appear.

DR O'TOOLE: The initial symptoms are very similar to flu, fever, backache, muscle aches, and after about three days you start -- of those symptoms -- you start developing a rash.

DR. HENDERSON: People are contagious once the rash begins from the very first stage of rash, the individual can spread it.

DR O'TOOLE: You can spread the disease to people who are in your immediate vicinity, six feet or so away. The rash is very painful; it usually causes scarring for life. Some people go blind, and about 30 percent of those who get smallpox die.

ROWLAND: Smallpox is not as contagious as the flu or measles but it's contagious enough to spread quickly. Health experts estimate, based on past outbreaks in Europe, each smallpox victim could spread the virus to at least 10 others and that's a conservative figure. So if 50 people were infected in a biological attack, two weeks later 500 people would be infected, and two weeks after that 5000 people.

But a recent simulated exercise called "Dark Winter" of a fictional biological attack with smallpox on three U.S. cities found three months after the attack, the virus spread to 25 states and 15 countries killing one million people.

DR. HENDERSON: There are those who said well, this is an extreme example of what might happen, that it's a worst-case scenario. I wish I could say that, but I can't.

ROWLAND: In real life to contain an epidemic of smallpox, it would take an alert physician to identify the biological attack early on.

DR. NICKI POSIK, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY: When they get the rash that would start to send up red flags. Unfortunately, most physicians in this country have never seen a case of smallpox and in the first couple of days; it will look very similar to chickenpox.

DR. HENDERSON: There are problems here in a number of areas where the doctors in the -- say emergency rooms or in private practice do not usually think of calling immediately to the public health authorities in their area to say, I've got a couple of cases that look very strange to me, I don't know what they are, I would like your help.

ROWLAND (on camera): If there is encouraging news on the level of U.S. preparedness it is this; experts say the United States is far better able to identify a biological agent than it was just two years ago. That's when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a network of 50 specialized laboratories across the country. Specimens taken from patients will be shipped to one of these labs for state of the art analysis. So once suspicions are raised, a biological attack could be identified within 24 hours.

(voice-over): A smallpox vaccine can stop the disease in it's tracks if given within three to five days of being exposed to the virus.

DR. O'TOOLE: No one under the age of 30 has been vaccinated. Those of us who are older than that, were probably vaccinated at least once, may be more often, and over time immunity wanes.

ROWLAND: The United States has a 25-year-old stockpile of smallpox vaccines. The problem it's dwindled to about 15 million doses, another 40 million are on order. The nation's top health leader has said, production of the vaccine will be sped up by two years and be ready in 2002.

DR. HENDERSON: We see the potential for emergency supplies being turned out very quickly. We see the certain measures we can take to stretch the vaccine supply effectively in an emergency, so we're feeling at this time much more confident about our vaccine supply than we were even a week ago.

ROWLAND: To fight a biological attack, America has learned that just like in New York City in 1947, its only defense is a rapid early warning system and plenty of vaccines -- Rhonda Rowland, CNN, Atlanta.


MCMANUS: For more head to, right on your screen there, for an in depth look at biological and chemical weapons.

WALCOTT: And for now that wraps up this edition of Newsroom. We'll see you tomorrow bye-bye.




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